ARPANSA EME Program Action Plan 2020-2024

The Government’s Electromagnetic Energy (EME) Program aims to build public confidence in the safety of telecommunications networks, and address misinformation about EME emissions. The EME program will provide the public with clear, reliable and reputable information on new EME based technologies like 5G, and advice on how to use this technology safely. ARPANSA will support this vision by delivering evidence-based scientific advice on EME and health.

This action plan outlines the activities and associated advice on EME and health that will be delivered by ARPANSA during 2020-2024. ARPANSA will report performance against this action plan through its corporate reporting and website.

Assess EME exposure in the community

During 2020-2024 ARPANSA will conduct studies to assess EME exposure from existing and new telecommunications technologies, like 5G. The studies will separately consider EME exposure levels in the home, in the work place, and in the wider community. The aims of the studies will include but are not limited to:

  • What is the typical EME exposure in the everyday environment?
  • What is the cumulative exposure from different telecommunications sources (mobile phone networks, TV, radio, Wi-Fi, etc)?
  • How does the EME exposure change over time (e.g. has the introduction of 5G increased the exposure)?

ARPANSA will publish the results of the studies to inform the community on their EME exposure.

Upgrade ARPANSA’s EME laboratory

ARPANSA maintains a nationally accredited laboratory for measurement and calibration of EME testing instruments and EME research. During 2020-2022 ARPANSA will upgrade its EME laboratory to extend its capability to higher EME frequencies which are related to 5G and future telecommunications. Specifically ARPANSA will:

  • Acquire new EME measurement equipment
  • Build a new anechoic chamber which is a specialised room designed to perform EME measurements, calibrations and research across an extended frequency range.

ARPANSA’s upgraded EME laboratory will offer a calibration service to the industry sector and the public and will provide an international standard research capability.

Conduct research on EME and health

It is important to continue the research into EME and health to ensure that public health policies are based on the most up-to-date information as telecommunications and other technologies continue to develop. ARPANSA has published an EME Research Agenda that makes recommendations for specific areas of research where the body of knowledge cab be built on. The recommendations include research for emerging technologies like 5G.

During 2020-2024 ARPANSA will promote, co-ordinate, fund and lead EME research outcomes through direct commissioning of research to focus on key research needs that underpin safety standards. It will allow gold standard research to be supported that considers the totality of science to ensure safety standards remain evidence based and risk informed. The research will also be aimed at addressing areas of public concern that can benefit from additional evidence.

Engage with international health authorities

There is an international effort to assess the health and environmental effects of EME exposure led by the WHO and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). During 2020-2024 ARPANSA will continue to engage with the WHO, ICNIRP and other international bodies and experts to build new knowledge and influence research outcomes and international safety standards. Specific international engagement during 2020-2024 will include:

  • Participation in the WHO health risk assessment of EME exposure.
  • Participation in the ICNIRP development of exposure guidelines to ensure they are fit for implementation in Australia.
  • Attendance at international workshops and conferences which present advances in EME research and protection policies.

Develop national EME safety standards

In order to protect people from the harmful effects of EME exposure, ARPANSA has previously developed a safety standard which sets limits for exposure from all EME sources including 5G and other telecommunications. The limits in the ARPANSA EME safety standard are set well below the levels at which harm to people is known to occur. During 2020-2024 ARPANSA will

  • Review, revise and maintain the ARPANSA EME safety standard based on international best practice and will consult all stakeholders on changes to the EME safety standard.
  • Support the development of national standards related to EME measurement and safety compliance to reflect a rapidly changing environment and align with international best practice. 

Provide information on EME and health

The purpose of risk communication is to inform the public about risks so that they can take informed decisions about preventive and protective behaviours. However the public consider and uptake new information in different ways.

During 2020-2024 ARPANSA will provide information to the community that translates the scientific content on EME and health for a general audience. To cater for different ways the public seek information, ARPANSA will provide content via various communications channels including website content, news items, social media content, multimedia material, talk to a scientist program and media spokespersons. ARPANSA will develop and publish a framework for communicating risk related to radiation exposure.